Discovering Codes, Ciphers and Secret Languages

Ref: C3741208

From wartime cryptography to cryptic crosswords, codes and ciphers have a place in both matters of life or death and trivial leisure pursuits, and every degree of importance in between. They have been used ever since people began to use writing. This course will explore how they work and how they can be deciphered, and also related subjects such as the use (and invention) of secret languages. You will be encouraged to bring materials to the class relevant to any of these topics, and suggestions for particular topics will be welcomed.

Additional information about this course

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Course aim

An introduction to codes and ciphers, how they are created and deciphered, and their uses from warfare to crosswords, and to the use of languages real and invented for secret communication.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is for beginners

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the principles behind codes, ciphers, and secret languages.
  • Decipher simple codes and know something about the way any code is deciphered.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the uses to which codes and ciphers can be put.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how languages can be invented or adapted for secret purposes.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • The tutor will sometimes suggest you prepare for a subsequent class, but written work outside the class will not be required.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • Various activities will take place during the classes to help you learn and the tutor to assess how you are learning.

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • Especially later in the course, you will be encouraged to bring materials (e.g. examples of codes) to the class, but this will never be required.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • The subject-matter of the course overlaps with various other areas, particularly linguistics, and it may prove helpful to anyone planning to learn about them.

Download full course outline

Discovering Codes, Ciphers and Secret Languages Course Outline

Enrolment Conditions

You can enrol online if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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